Hardware Reviews

Audionec Evo 2 for great tube sound

Audionec Evo 2 as review

Audionec Evo 2 AS loudspeaker

Audionec Evo 2 is the second tier of a rather well conceived modular loudspeaker range. The Evo line is based on three cabinets and a frame, from these building blocks Audionec offers four models all but the most ambitious of which can be upgraded. An Evo 1 consists of the Low mid/bass box plus the Duopole tubular driver and the super tweeter above it, the Evo 2 adds a Sub cabinet underneath to give the model you see here. The largest Evo 4 consists of two towers per channel with one looking like an Evo 2 with Low and Sub boxes above as well as below the Duopole DS and tweeter. These cabinets can be different colours as well, the sample we used had an orange Sub box and a dark grey Low, it looked great but I failed to take a picture and, it seems, so did Audionec.

But who are Audionec, they are a French company whose founder Francis Chaillet started out making a high end audio server before anyone outside of custom installation had heard of the idea. His first loudspeaker, the Answer, came in 2010 and this was the first time that a variant on the Duopole theme was used. This radical driver now forms the core of Audionec’s loudspeakers. It looks like two cylinders of plasticky paper that don’t appear to move when the speaker is playing music and it’s not clear whether it’s a curved planar design or something else.

Audionec Evo 2 as review

Francis Chaillet explains that it’s an electrodynamic driver, that is it’s based around a voice coil in a magnetic field like a regular cone driver, but that rather than having a round voice coil this one is vertical. The voice coil moves back and forth within a vertical magnetic field that is longer than the coil and therefore keeps it under control at all times. In a cone this would be a short coil/long gap design, however in a cone you need a spider to keep the voice coil and its former central within the magnetic gap. The advantage of the Duopole is that it doesn’t need to be held in place, it’s supported by the stiffness of the treated paper that forms the driver.

The Audionec Evo 2’s Duopole has a massive specified bandwidth of 400Hz to 10kHz, which is considerably wider than many so-called full range drivers.In the largest Audionec model, the Diva XL the Duopole has an ever wider range of 200Hz to 20kHz which is extraordinary to say the least. The tweeter on all the Audionec speakers operates solely as a supertweeter, extending high frequency capability up to 45kHz. This is way beyond the range of human hearing but just like the wide bandwidth of high resolution audio formats, this extra capability brings a natural openness to the sound that is highly beneficial.

Audionec Evo 2 as review

The Duopole is what’s known as a dipole because it radiates the same energy backwards and forwards, which, counterintuitively perhaps, makes it less room dependent that conventional front firing monopole loudspeakers. Many panel speakers are also dipole designs and their open character is usually ascribed to this factor. But panels tend to be inefficient, they need a lot of power for best results. The Duopole alone has 96dB sensitivity thanks in part to the shallow horn that’s formed by the two cylinders, the overall sensitivity of the Audionec Evo 2 is a healthy 90dB at four Ohms.

The Low driver is 22cm in diameter (around 8.5 inches) with a paper cone and sits in a 47cm deep cabinet with terminals in the back. The Sub unit in AS versions of this speaker contains an active subwoofer with its own power 500W amplifier onboard, the Audionec Evo 2 is available with a passive Sub but the active version makes the system far better suited to low powered valve/tube amplifiers where the relatively high sensitivity of the passive elements come into their own.

Audionec Evo 2 AS sound quality

Initial impressions of this speaker were mixed. On the one hand they are tremendously natural and open with excellent speed, on the other the imaging is not that well defined. Experimentation with placement helped the imaging to an extent but it never reached the degree of precision found with good conventional loudspeakers. But you soon get used to the style of presentation, especially when the many fine qualities of the Audionecs become apparent.

Audionec Evo 2 as review

Listening started with the Audionecs in Evo 1 mode, that is without the bass section being used. Here the sound was beautifully relaxed with a fine sense of timing and image scale that filled the room. It has the dynamic clout of a more conventional design but produced a soundstage that surrounded the listener and gave the impression that it could be played at pretty high levels without discomfort.

Bringing the speaker up to Audionec Evo 2 AS level by plugging in the Sub didn’t change things dramatically which is a sign that Audionec have done a great job of integrating this active element. Timing remained spot on without any leading edge forwardness, in fact there is a delicacy to the delivery that is sublime, the triangle on Babylon Sisters (Steely Dan) has never sounded so real. And the snap on Bernard Purdie’s snare drum is sharp but with real depth of tone, it feels like you can hear right into the mix such is the degree of separation between instruments and voices. With Massive Attack’s The Man Next Door the bass has serious extension and power, helping to place the sound in the room in full effect. The image may not be sharp but the sense of presence more than makes up for it, these speakers thrive on high energy productions like this, articulating every nuance of the performance to powerful effect.

Audionec Evo 2 as review

With Patricia Barber’s Company the vocal is outstanding, the effects on it as clear as day and the separation from the strong rhythm section absolute, it’s a bit like a relaxed monitor in this regard, you feel like almost everything is coming through thanks to the clarity and ease of the presentation. The Audionec Evo 2 has all the hallmarks of an intrinsically quiet design, by which I mean that its cabinets are small and stiff enough not to smear the sound with vibrations and the boxless nature of the mid/tweeter means that this is not an issue. The feet which look like genuinely isolating types are also likely to be a factor here, this is a well thought through speaker system without doubt.

As you might expect the results get better with a good analogue source, reviewing a recent reissue of John Lee Hooker’s The Healer (Craft Records) I was struck by how obvious it was that the stylus had warmed up by the second track. It carried on improving over the side but it’s rare that such graduations are so clear. The Audionecs are unsurprisingly very sensitive to variations in level between records too, this was illustrated when going from Michael Franks’ The Art of Tea to Taj Mahal’s Recycling the Blues & Other Related Stuff. Both are from the same era but the latter is cut at a higher level and in the able hands of the Evo 2s sounded superb, the live tracks being particularly powerful thanks to the acres of acoustic space, realistic immediacy and big dynamic range. The latter is something that more sensitive speakers have a natural advantage with and that was very clear here, making the performance that much more entertaining.

Audionec Evo 2 as review

As luck would have it a pair of Synthesis Roma 98DC valve power amps turned up during the Audionec’s tenure. These have KT88 output tubes and a specified 80 Watt output, they proved to be perfect partners for the Evo 2, producing a warmer and more engaging sound than the transistor amps previously in use. The balance seemed a bit darker but the musical message was extremely clear indeed, the Audionec Evo 2s revel in the timbre that tubes bring out. Put on a good recording of an acoustic performance and it feels like you’re there in the studio or the concert hall. The beauty of the music is so strong that you can’t help but fall for it, and this is as true for Haydn quartets as it is for Arab Strap’s gritty tales and chewy bass lines.

Audionec Evo 2 AS summary

This is an expensive loudspeaker system but it’s not hard to see and hear why. The Audionec Evo 2’s Duopole driver technology took years to perfect and has to be made in house because it’s unique to Audionec, it delivers electrostatic style transparency with dynamics that few if any panel speakers can match. The rest of the system works seamlessly with this driver to produce a highly revealing and musically compelling result that is very easy to enjoy and very hard to put down. The high sensitivity and low colouration of the Audionec Evo 2 AS make for a degree of musicality that will enchant you, especially if you love tube amps.


Type: 4-way floorstanding loudspeaker
Crossover frequency: 35Hz, 400Hz, 10kHz
Drive units:
Sub bass: 280mm paper cone woofer with 500W active power
Bass: 220mm paper cone woofer
Midrange/treble: 310mm high Duopole paper
Super tweeter: 25mm soft domed
Nominal frequency response: +/ -3dB 20 – 45,000 Hz
Nominal impedance: 4 Ohms
Connectors: bi-wire binding posts
Sensitivity: 90dB
Dimensions HxWxD: 1120 x 450 x 470mm
Weight: 76kg
Finishes: black, white plus custom finishes in any RAL colour
Warranty: 5years

Price when tested:
Audionec Evo 2 AS £42,800
Audionec Evo 2 passive £39,600
Manufacturer Details:

T +33 (0)1 60 54 36 42


floorstanding loudspeaker with active bass


Jason Kennedy

Distributor Details:

G-Point Audio
T 07859 421189

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